Depth in the Shallows

Month: September, 2016

Scrutinizing Scruton

This Won’t Hurt A Bit

Modern Philosophy: An Introduction And Survey by Roger Scruton

Roger that. Scruton is a writer, professor, and philosopher from England. His work has run the gamut, from politics to sex, environment to aesthetics. He is a strong thinker with no patience for obfuscation and euphemism, totalitarian ideologues or unthinking “thinkers.” His most formidable work centers on the philosophical branch of aesthetics. Scruton stands firmly in defense of the good, the true, and the beautiful. Anyone who opposes what is good, true, or beautiful, is not merely an enemy of the state, but of the human soul. All human misery and carnage can be traced back to a violation these three.

In this volume, Scruton shines light on the darkness of modern philosophy. Much of why philosophy has become a purely academic pursuit with a coded language inaccessible to the lay reader has to do with the dead ends that modern philosophers led us to. Without Truth at the center, there can be no meaningful explanation of the human condition. And that is, after all, what we seek.

“A writer who says that there are no truths, or that all truth is ‘merely relative,’ is asking you not to believe him. So don’t. Deconstruction deconstructs itself, and disappears up its own behind, leaving only a disembodied smile and a faint smell of sulphur.”


Assaying The Essay

Worth The Wait And The Weight Of Worth

The Essays of Joseph Epstein

If you’ve never read Joseph Epstein, I envy you (he actually authored a book called Envy).  Epstein is an editor, essayist, critic, and short story writer. Over the years he has published hundreds of articles in magazines, journals, and newspapers, and wrote numerous books. He is the best living essayist in America today, and certainly one of the very best in the world. Epstein, along with Montaigne and Orwell is a master of the form. In the Age of Attention Deficit, the essay (along with its fictional cousin the short story) should be more popular than it is. But that may well be a function of the dearth of essayists worth reading. Not so Epstein. I have yet to read an essay he has written that was not interesting, entertaining, and insightful. Not once. And I have read hundreds. So reward your wait, pick up a collection of his essays. He is worth it.

“I was recently asked what it takes to become a writer. Three things, I answered: first, one must cultivate incompetence at almost every other form of profitable work. This must be accompanied, second, by a haughty contempt for all the forms of work that one has established one cannot do. To these two must be joined, third, the nuttiness to believe that other people can be made to care about your opinions and views and be charmed by the way you state them. Incompetence, contempt, lunacy—once you have these in place, you are set to go.”

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